Getting Around Textbook Costs

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Despite efforts to control costs through used, rented, and electronic textbooks, the material college students are forced to buy for their classes still costs way too much.

According to an article by Bethany Rayle in the Defiance, Ohio Crescent-News:

A new law under the Higher Education Act requires colleges to release the required book list at the time of the student’s registration but that doesn’t mean the prices will be any better.

“Our prices are based on the price the publisher wants to charge us,” explained Northwest State Community College bookstore manager Larry Zuver. “They’ll raise the prices two times a year, typically, five percent maybe more. When they raise the prices, we sometimes have to raise ours. Textbooks are expensive. They way surpass inflation.”

Apparently Northwest State and nearby Defiance College are both, for the first time, letting their students rent textbooks through the bookstores.

It’s a little complicated, however. Under the new rule students can buy textbooks at half price if they sign a contract to return the book at the end of the semester.

But while this agreement might be good for the students, it’s not so great for the bookstore. As Zuver explained, “It’s kind of a risky business. You need to be able to rent the title for several semesters in order to make a profit. You’ve got to have something kind of stable.”

Perhaps that’s why the bookstore at NSCC is only willing to offer four books for rent this semester. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer